The hoteliers do not find waiters . Or so some have said on social media and television shows this August. It has even been hinted that many prefer to collect unemployment rather than accept a contract in the hospitality industry.
The response of the waiters with whom this medium has spoken is very clear: “What makes you not want to work are the conditions, it is almost slavery,” Alejandro, a waiter from Albacete , tells 20Minutos . A situation that worsens if you are a woman or part of the LGTBI group: “A businessman told me not to tell that I was a lesbian because I couldn’t tell,” says María Pía, a hotelier from Barcelona.
Two waiters behind the bar of a bar in Madrid.
According to data from the Ministry of Employment , in July, unemployment fell to 3.4 million, so there are already 600,000 more people employed than in 2019 , the year before the coronavirus . And one out of every two people hired in July has gone to bars, restaurants, beach bars, bars and more.
“Pay them more”
From the Association of Maitres and Waiters of Spain (AMYCE) they stick to the so-called “Biden recipe”. When the President of the United States heard that employers complained that they could not find workers for their businesses, he addressed them a single phrase: “Pay them more!” . “If you want good workers, you have to pay for them . A restaurant in Madrid, or in a big city, with 20 people working, can bill on average between 300,000 euros and half a million a month . There is money, they tighten our belts to have even more benefits “, assures Ignacio Guido, president of the association.
Bad conditions scare many of those who want to work in hospitality. But for Guido, the main problem is salary: “Professional people who have been in the hospitality industry for many years do not want to continue working because they are not being paid accordingly . And young people do not want to learn because they see that merits do not translate into salary. “.
“There is money, they tighten our belts to have even more benefits”
For AMYCE it is true that there is a lack of waiters, but not because young people do not want to be. “They work 14, 15 or 16 hours and they cannot charge the same as an employee who works 8. In the end, we will lose our attention and professionalism,” says Guido to 20Minutos.
Ignacio Guido, President of AMYCEIgnacio Guido, President of AMYCECourtesy of Ignacio Guido
Alejandro, a waiter from Albacete who has not wanted to give more identifying information for fear of retaliation from his boss, believes that the waiters’ situation is “precarious in 90% of the cases.” He tells his story at 20Minutos: he works in a neighborhood bar, which opens until two in the morning, “paying 15 hours a week when I get to make 10 a day. It’s 7 euros an hour but I only earn what I work, ” he adds. .
“Out of six jobs I’ve had in hospitality, this is the one with the best conditions.” And it should not be like that, according to the hospitality agreement, a waiter should charge a minimum of 1,260 euros per month , collect overtime, night time, be registered with social security and even receive food at his workplace. But that is a pipe dream. The trap that many use is to make contracts as a busboy to pay less: “According to my contract, I’m a busboy and actually I take orders, suppliers … I’m the manager,” says Alejandro.
A waiter in a Sitges restaurant.
The same is the opinion of José Perez, who after having worked in hotels, fast food outlets, cocktail bars and tapas restaurants, left the hospitality industry “and would not return to it” due to the dire conditions. ” a discharge lower than the one that would correspond, salary below the agreement and if they pay overtime it is in black, ” says José.
Whole weeks without ridding, without vacations, sleeping 4 hours …
But the worst thing for these waiters is not the salary, but the marathon days they face without paying. “In January I spent a whole month closing and opening. I went home at one thirty and got up at six to open the bar. The 12 hours of rest were not respected, I went almost without sleeping,” says Alejandro.
“I missed a day and the rest of the waiters stole my share of the tips. The conditions were so bad that it was the jungle”
But for Alejandro, although the sector is still very precarious, something has progressed: “In my first job I spent a whole summer serving from Monday to Sunday without any day of rest for 600 euros, about 2.70 euros per hour,” he says.
“They took advantage of what I needed, but it was almost slavery.” Nor was I entitled to leave so “I missed a day due to illness and the rest of the waiters stole my share of the tips. At that moment I got angry, to this day I understand that the conditions we had were so bad that it was the jungle Any extra income was well received, “he says sadly.
“We must look within and think that we have done wrong”
And some hoteliers are well aware of this. This is the case of María Pía Durán and Lola Salas Bosque, founders of Lolín Café Gastrobar , in Badalona, a business they created to escape the bad conditions they had endured working for other hoteliers for years.
María Pia Duran and Lola Salas Bosque, owners of the Lolín Café gastrobarMaría Pia Duran and Lola Salas Bosque, owners of the Lolín Café gastrobarTandem Projects
Their situation worsened because they were women for whom the hospitality industry is even more difficult, as María relates: “There are things that a man does not face, such as women being seen by a certain physical form and not seeing the side professional”. And even more so as part of the LGTBI collective: “A businessman for whom I worked told me not to tell that I was a lesbian because it was not noticeable,” she says.
Alejandro strongly agrees that women are discriminated against in the hospitality industry: ” They are not clichés, it happens systematically in bars . I am the only boy and I am the manager. They have fewer shifts and if they don’t work they don’t get paid. At least I do. I have a better salary “.
Be careful, cavemen offer jobs and also know how to use WhatsApp. pic.twitter.com/nQYLUH40MZ
– I’m a Waiter (@soycamarero) August 21, 2021
“That they pay you with the real category you have, all the hours and overtime on the payroll … It was a rarity,” says María Pía at 20Minutos . Therefore, as soon as they had enough savings, they created their gastrobar.
“When you start a business, you can’t pretend to work just enough, hire personnel in poor conditions and go through life as an entrepreneur,” complains María. “We were clear that until we had the possibility of hiring someone according to the agreement we would put in the hours that were necessary, but we would not hire.” Maria believes that one should “look within and think that we have done wrong so that people do not want to work in the hospitality industry”.
Outrageous offers: 12 hours a day for 500 euros
Both waiters as Hosteleras with which it has been able to speak this way, they have seen offers that did not meet by far the agreement hospitality: ” They ask situations semislavery, which speak of half a day and work about 50 hours a week to I would only take desperate people, “says María.
Is there a competition of exploiters? Here one who wants to sign up … pic.twitter.com/jm6mIipO27
– I’m a Waiter (@soycamarero) July 27, 2021
“It is a profession that has exhausted many people, it is complicated, exhausting … but if you do not dignify a person with a real salary for the effort they have to make, how do you expect people to come to work for you?” Maria wonders, although she emphasizes that she “loves her profession”, she knows how hard it is.
Alejandro agrees: “It is hard to live from the hospitality industry. To have a decent life you have to do many hours without contributions and you do not want to delay the experience for too long because you are going to be left with a ridiculous unemployment.” José believes that “if the hospitality businesses respected the agreement, they would not lack workers” which is shown because he has been in places where strictly respected and “there were people who had been working there for decades.” The problem is not the hospitality, it is the conditions.
“To have a decent life you have to do many hours without paying contributions and you do not want to delay the experience because you are going to be left with a ridiculous unemployment”
The solution: inspections and complaints
“I ask the workers to report it, it is the only way,” believes María. For her, the solution is clear and it is that there is greater control and, above all, greater sanctions: “At the first, second, third inspection that is sanctioned, there will be something clear for the businessmen, or we square ourselves or they crack at us. fines “. That is why he asks “the Ministry of Labor and the unions to motivate the inspections”, because “together we have to make this improve.”
For AMYCE, the solution is for employers to “value” the profession with a decent salary . So “young people will want to study hospitality” and entrepreneurs will see their income rise because having a qualified staff “shows in the billing at the end of the month,” says Ignacio Guido.